My Testimony for Senate Internet of Things Hearing

by on February 11, 2015 · 0 comments

This morning at 9:45, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is holding a full committee hearing entitled, “The Connected World: Examining the Internet of Things.” According to the Committee press release, the hearing “will focus on how devices — from home heating systems controlled by users online, to wearable devices that track health and activity with the help of Internet-based analytics — will be made smarter and more dynamic through Internet technologies. Government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, however, are already considering possible changes to the law that could have the unintended consequence of slowing innovation.”

It is my pleasure to have been invited to testify at this hearing. I’ve long had an interest in the policy issues surrounding the Internet of Things. All my relevant research products can be found online here, including my latest law review article, “The Internet of Things and Wearable Technology Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns without Derailing Innovation.

My testimony, which can be found on the Mercatus Center website here, begins by highlighting the three general conclusions of my work:

  1. First, the Internet of Things offers compelling benefits to consumers, companies, and our country’s national competitiveness that will only be achieved by adopting a flexible policy regime for this fast-moving space.
  2. Second, while there are formidable privacy and security challenges associated with the Internet of Things, top-down or one-size-fits-all regulation will limit innovative opportunities.
  3. Third, with those first two points in mind, we should seek alternative and less costly approaches to protecting privacy and security that rely on education, empowerment, and targeted enforcement of existing legal mechanisms. Long-term privacy and security protection requires a multifaceted approach incorporating many flexible solutions.

I continue on to elaborate on each point and then conclude my testimony on a note of optimism:

we should also never forget that, no matter how disruptive these new technologies may be in the short term, we humans have an extraordinary ability to adapt to technological change and bounce back from adversity. That same resilience will be true for the Internet of Things. We should remain patient and continue to embrace permissionless innovation to ensure that the Internet of Things thrives and American consumers and companies continue to be global leaders in the digital economy.

My testimony also includes 7 appendices offering more detail for those interested.  Two of those appendices focus on defining the parameters of the Internet of Things as then documenting the projected economic impact associated with this rapidly-growing market.  The other appendices reproduce essays I have published here before, including articles about the Federal Trade Commission’s recent Internet of Things report as well as my thoughts on how to craft a nonpartisan policy vision for the Internet of Things.

Finally, here’s a list of most of my recent work the Internet of Things and wearable technology policy issues for those interested in reading even more about the topic:

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